How to Set Gmail as the Default Mail Client in Windows Vista

by Andrew Aarons

Google has all of your bases covered, don’t they? They give you a free email address, link it to their massive free video site YouTube, and offer chat, video conferencing, and word processing -- all online. But sometimes you just want to be able to click on an email address and send an email from Windows, using your Gmail account. That’s possible too, but it requires some tinkering.

Enable IMAP

Before you can connect Gmail with Windows Mail -- the built-in email program in Windows Vista -- you have to tell your Gmail account that that’s okay. Sign in to your Gmail account and click the gear icon beside your profile picture to access your Gmail settings, then choose “Forwarding and POP/IMAP.” Click “Enable IMAP” and then save the changes. IMAP tells your account to send your mail several places at once, and you need to turn it on before accessing Gmail from your computer, phone, or the Web.

Get Your Settings from Gmail

Google has a handy email troubleshooter app that provides all of the specific, ultra-nerdy settings that you need to configure your account with Windows Mail. Before you get to setting up that account, view Google’s “Get started with IMAP and POP3” document (see References). Click “OK, confirm my settings,” and Google will spit out all of the information you need to plug in to Windows Mail.

Set Up the Account in Windows

Now that your Gmail account is ready to be shared between different devices, you can add it to Windows Mail. Click the Start button and open “Windows Mail,” then click “Tools” and “Accounts or Email Accounts.” Click "Add" to add your Gmail account, and then add every piece of information that Google gave you during the “Get started with IMAP and POP3” process. You’ll have three settings to add for incoming mail and five to add for outgoing mail. Add your display name -- the name you want Windows to use when you send mail -- then enter your Gmail username and password and click “Save.”

Making Your Account the Default Account

If you’ve ever installed another email account in Windows Mail, that account will likely be the default -- ahead of your Gmail account. In Windows Mail, click “Tools” and “Accounts or Email Accounts” again to see all of the accounts currently tied to your Windows Mail. One of the accounts will say “(default)” beside it. Click on your Gmail account and then click “Set as default.” You can also remove all of the other accounts from this screen, if you no longer wish to use them.

About the Author

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.

Photo Credits

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